University: London College of Communication, University of the Arts London
Genre: Fine Art
Artist Statement: The Fractures of our Soul; The rocks on the sea side remind me of a new birth, there is lots of bumps and hidden crevices, that had a story, a past, it reminded me that just because I had been in pain, there is always a new start, a new beginning, the story doesn’t have to be forgotten but it doesn’t have to define you either.
Using large-scale prints to showcase the detail and sense of the reality of the issues that have affected Grace Jackson’s life. Jackson explores the ideas of the female body and in contrast to a landscape. Jackson is very interested in psychology and this has always been the backbone to her work. Jackson’s work is autobiographical and explores the idea that the personal is political, and uses her work to go through memories and traumas she has repressed.
What are some standout moments from your time at university? I think my stand out moments were creating 3 life size liquid emulsion prints (3mx1m) for my final show, and also organising our own exhibition for 7 of us in second year; it was so stressful but so rewarding to understand how it all worked, and not having tutors to fall back on made us so determined to make it as good as possible and it was such a success.
Which photographic genre do you consider your work to fall into? I would definitely consider my work fine art photography
What themes do you find yourself exploring? I explore a lot of loss and trauma in my work. I am constantly working with the personal is political. I think that if one person has suffered something then I feel they can help someone else through their story, which could be a similar situation. I think art should be about lifting one another up, it should be a therapy and add something to your life.
Can you tell us how you make your work? What camera equipment do you use, and how do you go about layering your images? All of my work is made in the darkroom, and I print on Ilford warmtone paper. I shoot mainly on an MPP however I always have my Yashica t4 point and shoot 35mm camera with me so some of the images are from that camera.
When it comes to layering, I scan my photographs and start seeing what I can play around with before taking them into the darkroom and having more of a development process. It's crazy how you scan something and see one thing and then go to print it and create something completely different.
Why have you chosen to layer some of your images in The Fractures of our Soul as opposed to showing two images side by side? I feel that because the images are so different they need to be layered on top rather than presented as a diptych. As they are layered you start to see the similarities. Although the landscapes have harsh edges compared to the soft curve of the female body, I feel there are similarities; the crevices remind me of a body.
How do you choose the scenes you photograph and then how do you decide which to juxtapose with parts of the body? I am always looking for hidden beaches, or places that people haven't discovered. Although the UK isn't thought of for its beautiful beaches, there are some hidden gems - if you can stand the cold weather. I am always looking for something interesting, something that isn't man made but is so unique, something interesting in the way the rocks have formed. When it comes to choosing parts of the body I usually shoot the landscapes first and once I have developed them and started looking what I've got, I then think "do they need a body or do they tell a story on their own?" If I think the images need to be layered with a body I start to look very structurally at how the curves and edges of the rocks are formed, and therefore how does the body need to move or contort to compliment the landscape. Although there is some planning and logic to how my models stand and move. I also really like to go with the flow and let the female move naturally and capture as we go, and see what I like and don't like when I have the subject in front of me and how it looks on camera. I always find that the best things just happen.
Can you explain your series title? So the series is actually all about sexual assault and rape, and how unfortunately as women, we are vulnerable. Our bodies have been sexualised so much that many peoples first response to someone being raped is “what were you wearing” or “were you alone” or “was it night time” or even worse “did you verbally say no”?
We live in a society where rape is considered to be the victims fault, but we don’t talk about the affect that something so tragic could have on a someone, or how they overcome dealing with something so difficult to comprehend, especially when they don’t have the support from their nearest and dearest or the police. So my title comes from that thought - which our souls are fractured from events and things that have happened to us but we can’t ever talk about them to help heal ourselves. ‘Difficult’ subjects are not spoken about, but that doesn’t mean your soul or spirit is untouched by the events.
Is it your body that’s photographed here? Do you think it’s important for your viewer to know who it is? It’s not my body, this is the first series in a long time I haven’t used my own body for my work. The two females are given complete anonymity as this was my agreement with them, and for this subject matter I don’t think it is important because it really can happen to anyone.
Can you name one photographer who has always influenced your work? That is a hard one. I think when it comes to photography Sophie Calle would be a massive influence on my work; I love the whole diary aspect of her work and the way a lot of her pieces are hand written. My biggest influence would be Tracey Emin though. Although she is not a photographer, her style and the way she talks about trauma and creates it into a beautiful piece of work that helps her heal is amazing, she is so honest and open about her experiences.
What are your future plans as a photographer and for this particular series of work? So I have set up my own studio and darkroom to use for my personal work but also to hire out. The marketing for that will definitely be taking up a lot of my time. For my own work, I have an idea for my next project, which will be almost be a continuation from The Fractures of the Soul. I am thinking it will be a book as well as prints, and I am hoping to include some alternative processes for the project so I am super excited to get that started making it all in the new year. For this series of work, I have been lucky enough to have it shown in three different galleries two in London and one in Austria, so I have those shows to look forward to.
Do you think you would be making this work if you didn’t study for a degree in photography? No definitely not. My work before university always told a story but never mine, I never used my art in a therapeutic process, even though I have always found taking photographs does de-stress me, I now use my art to explore things I have been through and feelings I feel. University taught me how to use my art to explore things. I also wouldn't have found such a love for the process of film and printing the work myself without all of the tutors and technicians help, as well as the great facilities.